Context: As per a data from the Health Ministry’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the five states namely Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Tamil Nadu that share the burden of 70% of COVID-19 cases, also account for the bulk of Swine flu cases.

More on the news:

  • In the preceding year, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Maharashtra accounted for 15,580 cases of confirmed H1N1 ,tantamount to  54 % of the confirmed infections. 
    • BackIn 2018 again, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat, made up 65% of H1N1 cases.
    • Barring 2016, Maharashtra and Gujarat have either led or been among the top three states to share India’s swine flu count.
  • Months of February-March are typical months for influenza in India. 
    • Most influenza activity in northern India was seen during the summer months, in a stark contrast to southern and western India,where influenza cases mostly peak during winter months. 

H1N1 and COVID-19: A Comparison


  • Virus as Pathogen 
    • Both HIN1 and COVID-19 are caused due to pathogens that trace their origins to viruses from non-human hosts, they belong to different families.
    • Both seasonal flu viruses and COVID-19 are contagious viruses 
  • Lung connection
    • Both infiltrate the lungs and cause characteristic pulmonary infections that cause respiratory illness


  • Mode of Transmission
    • Flu viruses are spread in respiratory droplets and airborne particles, while COVID-19 virus is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, and in some instances may be shed in feces.
  • Varying fatality rates
    • Swine flu infections have a higher case fatality rate that translates to deaths per confirmed cases and can cause significant deaths in children as well as those less than 60
    • COVID-19 on the other hand is relatively more dangerous to those above 60 and almost harmless to children.
    • COVID-19 spreads more easily and has a higher death rate than the flu.
  • R-nought
    • The basic reproduction number or R0 of Flu is 1.46 while that of COVID-19 is between 2-3.
  • Vaccine Protection
    • Unlike seasonal flu, for which there is a vaccine to protect against infection, there is no vaccine for COVID-19.
  • Herd Immunity
    • There is typically some herd immunity to seasonal flu while for COVID-19, it is yet to be developed.
  • Social Media and Technology
    • COVID-19 is the first pandemic in the era of social media where the wealth of misinformation about the disease has the potential to  spread faster than the virus.
    • Moreover, COVID-19 pandemic has appeared in this advanced technological age, leading to probability of fast paced research and vaccine development.


Swine Flu


  • Swine flu is a disease of pigs that can, in rare cases, be passed to humans. It is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by one of many Influenza A viruses.


  • The disease is spread among pigs by direct and indirect contact, aerosols, and from pigs that are infected but do not have symptoms. 
  • H1N1 is a seasonal infection which usually occurs every year with two peaks (One in January to March and other between July to September) in India.


  • Most commonly, swine flu is of the H1N1 influenza subtype. However, swine flu viruses can sometimes come from other subtypes, such as H1N2, H3N1, and H3N2.
  • H1N1 has primarily two strains - California and Michigan. From 2009 to 2016 California strain was dominant in India but since then cases of Michigan strain are observed more.  


  • Include coughs, chills, and aches, similar to seasonal flu.


  • A vaccine has been produced to protect humans against the H1N1 strain of swine flu. This was introduced following a pandemic of swine flu in 2009 and 2010. 
  • Further Oseltamivir and Zanamivir drugs continue to be gold standard against the swine flu infection.

What does H1N1 mean?

  1. The designation “H1N1” indicates unique traits, which exhibit characteristics that identify the virus to the immune system and allows for attachment and replication of the virus.
  2. The “H” (hemagglutinin) and the “N” (neuraminidases) are both proteins that are found on the outer shell or envelope of the virus. 
  3. Different viruses have different hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins. 
  4. There are 16(H1 to H16) known types of hemagglutinin and 9(N1 to N9) known types of neuraminidase, which gives 144 different possible combinations of these proteins.




Image Source: The HIndu